If your idea of a perfect beauty product is one with instant results, trust us when we say you’ll go wild over gommage exfoliators. Gommage—meaning “to erase” in French—refers to the sloughing-off of dead skin by way of applying an enzyme-rich gel and massaging it into the face. What happens next is beauty magic at its best—the product will roll up into small balls, taking your dead skin along with it.
“There are chemical exfoliators that are easier to apply and rinse off that produce the same results,” says dermatologist Dr. Melanie Palm. But she agrees when we say that there's something oh-so satisfying about seeing bits of the product and dead skin rub off so clearly before your eyes.
Lest you get caught up in the instant gratification of it all, don’t forget this is your skin we’re talking about—and like any product, gommage exfoliators should be applied with care. “They work best for those with normal to oily skin,” says Dr. Palm, who adds that those with seasonal rough patches (as opposed to all-over dry skin) will find this method especially effective. But, she warns, “if you have sensitive skin, the massage involved can be too harsh."
With her advice in mind, if you’re prone to redness and irritation, stick to practicing gommage only when your skin is feeling extra rough and dry. If your skin is fairly hearty, you can use gommage gel as often as you would any other exfoliator—so, about twice to three times a week. We’ve rounded up our favorites to get you started.
Boscia’s new Exfoliating Peel Gel ($34; sephora.com) combines the physical exfoliation of traditional gommage with a chemical formula that penetrates pores.
A bottle of Cure Natural Aqua Gel ($40; oo35mm.com) is sold every 12 seconds in Japan. And now, it’s gaining popularity Stateside thanks to its natural ingredients and light water-based formula.
Koh Gen Do
A botanical-based exfoliator, Koh Gen Do Soft Gommage Spa Gel ($45; sephora.com) has chrysanthellum indium extract, said to help reduce redness.
Peter Thomas Roth
The multi-action enzymes (think pineapple and pomegranate) in Peter Thomas Roth FIRMx Peeling Gel ($48; sephora.com) mean you can leave this formula on for several minutes for more intense exfoliation.
Thanks to a potent combination of ascorbic acid and daisy extract, Arcona Brightening Gommage Exfoliator ($52; nordstrom.com) also helps brighten skin.
Yon-Ka Gommage 305 Exfoliator ($44; dermstore.com) is a gentler version of the brand’s Gommage 303 Exfoliator for normal to oily skin types.